12-31-2011 01:26 AM
As far as I know, Hexagon 2.5 doesn't have Collada format. Am I wrong in this? my copy isn't even installed anymore on my current machine... if not, is it complicated to export to something blender can import, and save to collada from there? Viable without introducing inefficiencies into the model?
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12-31-2011 03:44 AM
I have just started using Hexagon myself.
There is no DAE format in 2.5. However, you can export /save as in OBJ & 3DS format and then import it to any other software and thereon save it in DAE format.
Also, Google SketchUp can be used to create mesh as well with DAE format.
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12-31-2011 01:47 PM - edited 12-31-2011 01:59 PM
Yah, Hexagon is definitely viable for SL mesh - I have been using it constantly.
In regards to Collada, I simply export my finished mesh as an .obj file, take it into Blender and then export it as the final .dae file for SL uploading. I don't know much about using Blender itself yet, but for simple importing and exporting it is fairly straightforward (no learning curve required LOL). It would be nice IF Hexagon had this facility built-in, but I can live without it and use this workaround in lieu, since it means staying with a modeler I am familiar with.
I also use Blender during my modeling process to convert my meshes to triangles (unless my meshes are simple enough to do it by hand). I'm unaware if Hexagon can convert quads to triangles automatically (though I wouldn't be surprised if the option is staring me in the face LOL!). Blender does a lovely job of this - simply converting each quad to two-triangles. This procedure is pretty painless too - just export your mesh as an .obj file, import it into Blender, then immediately EXPORT it as an .obj file again - Blender's OBJ export options include a TRIANGULATE function - simply select that option and you have a triangulated mesh. Far quicker than doing it manually! Then take it back into Hexagon if you plan on further work there. (Often Blender will add its own material to your mesh (most likely an export option) - I generally just remove it from the mesh when it's back in Hexagon, to keep things as Hexagon-specific as possible (for cleaner workflow)).
Keep in mind that the default unit measurement systems vary between Hexagon and Blender - so each time you bring a mesh BACK into Hexagon, you might want to increase its size by a factor of 10 (at least for me, anyways) to keep your Hexagon sizing consistent.
I haven't attempted rigged meshes as yet, but I would assume Hexagon doesn't have this capability. For the rigging, I will be using Blender for that step; however the rest of the mesh would be done within Hexagon as per usual - using an imported AV as a mannikin to model around etc.
Personally, I find that Hexagon's UV-mapper is a pain to use on complex meshes - if you find this to be the case, it's definitely worth exploring other options for that step - Blender for example, among others. However, you might find Hexagon is just fine for your needs (I gave up on Hexagon's UV-mapper years back, so it might have improved since then).
As a side note: Hexagon tutorials tend to be sparse and thinly spread, but I found the Hexagon video tutorials at Geekatplay to be hugely helpful (especially as a refresher for me, since I never read Hexagon's manual properly!). They have a buy option, but I found watching the videos online to be perfectly acceptable. If you are a Hexagon newbie (or an oldie like me LOL) they are definitely worth studying.
So yah, Hexagon is great for SL mesh - Have fun!
01-02-2012 08:56 AM
I am use to using Hexagon as well to develope mesh but game across a great series of tutorials that very clear cut to follwo in rigging your mesh item to SL Avatar I have yet to work it thru completely since still working on the mesh model in Hex but this series of tutorials seem the clearest in for rigging that i have seen to date. Rigging SL Mesh in Blender My only question which is mentioned in the tutorial is the creating it seems of the model at a few different LOD levels and trying to translate what that means when using Hex I am not sure I follow that concept. So any suggestions on what that mean would be greatly appreciated.
01-02-2012 12:42 PM
The concept of different LOD levels for the model means that you create up to four versions of your mesh - one for each LOD step LL uses. (LOD = level of detail).
For each step down the LOD scale, SL would switch to the mesh you define in the uploader as the cam distance increases. This saves on rendering cost (and will reduce your land impact cost as well - very important for performance, even if it is a worn item).
So say for LOD1 and LOD2, I would probably use your full detail mesh.
LOD3 and LOD4 (further down the scale) - you would create separate meshes, each in LOWER detail in regards to triangle count. Basically, remove as much detail as you can, while maintaining a recognisable shape, at the longer view distances. You will also need to UV-map these meshes as well, preferably so they roughly match the texture of your full LOD mesh. A fair bit of work, but definitely worthwhile if you want to be a responsible mesh creator.
So yah, the different LOD levels you mention is simply lower triangle count versions of your main mesh. Hexagon is quite capable of doing this part (not sure about the UV-mapping, as I use a separate application for that (personal preference mostly)).
01-02-2012 03:17 PM
Thanks very much Maeve I think I undertand what you mean and please feel free to correct me if I am on the wrong track because this is what I was thinking when I was thinking of the LOD levels to me I was thinking that these would be similar to maybe saving my model at each stage of developement prior to lets say appling smoothing to the mess which add more vertices? Because in one of the videos I saw inj the link I provided earlier it seemed in one of ashasekayi's second life rigged clothing when she explorted her model for upload to SL the different LOD levels to me just looked like the actual model at different stages prior to having applied smoothing. Again I might be on the wrong track since I am using either Hexagon and Silo for different protions of my personal workflow but since niether does export to Collada and even thou I own both Daz Advance and Carrara 8 whick at times I honestly wonder why I spent the money on I would use Blender for rigging and export to Collada since thus far the rigging tutorial in blender made sense and was very well done to follow the process.
01-02-2012 05:02 PM
How you create the different LOD levels does not matter. Different 3D programs have different tools to help with it, and your personal workflow can vary. What matters is when you are far away from the object, you simply cannot see fine details, since they will be less than 1 pixel in size on the screen. So to save work for everyone's viewers, you should create a lower detail version to see at long distance. How much detail you remove is up to you, but the higher the detail you keep at lower LOD levels, the higher the upload cost and Land Impact values will be. They are set that way to encourage you to be efficient.
Some hints at making things look nice without excessive triangle counts (this applies at any LOD level):
* Use smoothing groups if your 3D program has it. That varies the shading across an object smoothly, making it appear rounded even without a lot of sides.
* Use alpha planes. These are flat objects (2 triangles) with a *picture* of the object in more detail pasted on it. A plant with 900 triangles close up can be replaced with a few alpha planes (4-6 triangles) for the lowest LOD. Those have a rendered image of the high detail version on them. At the longest view distance, you cannot tell the difference.
* All your LOD versions are forced to the same "bounding box" as the highest LOD, no matter what size they are modeled. A bounding box is a box prim just large enough to contain the whole model. Keep that in mind as you make the other LOD versions.
01-02-2012 06:20 PM - edited 01-03-2012 01:19 AM
Lobo: I guess it depends on your personal preferences in regards to modeling techniques, as to how you create your LOD meshes.
Smoothing will add (a lot) of extra quads to your mesh depending on how much you apply it - so you need to keep a close eye on how it affects things. Also, keep in mind that in Hexagon you are probably creating a QUAD based mesh - when it is converted to triangles, the poly count will be AT LEAST DOUBLE (assuming each quad is split into two triangles - SL requires all meshes to be triangles).
Myself, I tend to work LOW POLY in my modeling techniques to get the basic shaping defined, and gradually add the details until I achieve the final main mesh shape I am after - all the while, I keep a very close eye on my poly count and keep it as efficient as possible (as LOW a poly / quad count as possible, even for the FULL LOD version of the mesh). Once I have the main mesh created, I duplicate it in a separate file and I then work backwards, removing quads / merging others to reduce the detail level, while trying to maintain a recognisable shape from the relevant distances the LODs will be seen at.
Keep in mind that a good quality texture will go a LONG WAY to helping add to the overall look of a lower LOD mesh, even with heavily reduced geometry - if done well, the texture can actually fool the eye into seeing detail that isn't really there in mesh (and generally, people won't be scrutinising your mesh at longer LOD ranges anyway, they will zoom in close with their cam if they want a good look, where your better detail LOD mesh will kick in).
Hmm... I know Blender is free and a wonderful program, but keep in mind that Carrara-8 is a very powerful modeling program as well. Since you already have it in your toolkit, it would be worth exploring its capabilities - you might find that you prefer its interface to work with over Blender. Often various 3D programs have stronger capabilities in specialist areas than others, so are often very useful purely for those aspects. Myself, I have a wide range of 3D programs I have accumulated over the past number of years (and often asked myself why I bought them etc as well LOL), but each is powerful in its own way, so are all valuable assets to your 3D toolkit.
Have fun! Mesh is awesomely addictive, not only for SL, but for creativity in general - but that is an entirely different subject!
01-02-2012 06:31 PM
Again thanks for the response Maeve it is giving me more encouragement to contuinue learning and I appreciate the info very much. I do own several modeling programs obtaining them thru upgrades usually I know Carrara is suppose to be a decent modeler but learned most of what I know on Hexagon the learning curve was almost nonexistent compared to some others. Carrara the interface drives me more batty than Blender and Silo well it is easy to learn as hexagon was as well. And the recent new update that was released for Hexagon has made it even more stable even on my Windows 7 machine so hardly ever crashes. But again thank you for the information and I will take everything you have said and apply it to what I am doing it is really great when someone can explain something in such a way that you can follow it fully and understand it.
02-05-2012 11:27 AM
Current Heagon version is 188.8.131.52 which is available from DAZ 3D for free, Also DAZ Studio for free as well, and I'm seeing references to Collada export. So Hexagon --> DAZ Studio --> Collada --> SL That has the advantage of being a supported path using DAZ software all the way to Collada.
It looks as though there are two variants of Collada available as export options from DAZ Studio Make sure you pick the correct one.
Caution: DAZ Studio routinely uses very complicated meshes. I can imagine some of the Hexagon modelling tools producing meshes which are way to complicated for SL. So be careful.